This post was originally published on December 1, 2014, but has been updated for 2018 due to the author’s ever-changing opinions on Christmas movies.
Ahhh Christmas. It is truly the most wonderful time of the year. Surely spending time on the couch watching your most favorite Christmas-themed movies is part of the yearly tradition that gets you in the holiday spirit. From the movies that bring back nostalgic memories of Christmases past to the newer movies that have recently made it to your yearly rotation, everyone has a list of movies they love to watch at Christmastime.
Without further ado, here is our definitive list of the 13 best Christmas movies of all time. Did your favorite make our list?
No better way than to kick off our list with a Christmas horror movie. You saw this movie as a little kid but probably shouldn’t have.
Best Christmas Moment: When Billy opens his special present to find the cute little Gizmo staring back up at him.
Worst Christmas Moment: This one has a few… Let’s stick with the part where Phoebe Cates’ character Kate tells the story of when they found her dead dad in the chimney dressed as Santa Claus.
Best Line: “You say you hate Washington’s Birthday or Thanksgiving and nobody cares, but you say you hate Christmas and people treat you like you’re a leper.” – Kate
12. Die Hard
So you go to your boring old office Christmas party only to get taken as hostage. Luckily John McClane is there to save you.
Best Christmas Moment: When John saves the day!
Worst Christmas Moment: When John got stuck going to a party he didn’t want to go to and had to walk barefoot on broken glass in the process of killing the terrorists who took his wife and her co-workers hostage.
Best Line: “Yippie-ki-yay mother f*****!” – John McClane
11. The Santa Clause 2
Tim Allen playing Santa Claus. What’s not to love?
Best Christmas Moment: When Scott Calvin aka Santa Claus goes to the High School staff party and saves the day using a little of his Christmas magic.
Worst Christmas Moment: Basically everything involving the mean principal up until she realized Scott is actually the REAL SANTA!
Best Line: “Seeing isn’t believing. Believeing is seeing!” – Charlie
10. How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Jim Carrey at his charactered best. This movie brought the classic story to life and gave it a little depth.
Best Christmas Moment: When the Grinch gives Christmas back to the people of Whoville after he stole it.
Worst Christmas Moment: When the Grinch stole Christmas… duh.
Best Line: “Oh, no, the sleigh, the presents, they’ll be destroyed, and I care!” – The Grinch
9. The Santa Clause
Yeah I did. I put Tim Allen playing Santa on here TWICE! Don’t @ me.
Best Christmas Moment: When Scott/Santa takes his son Charlie in the sleigh to help him deliver Christmas presents to the children of the world.
Worst Christmas Moment: When Scott decides it’s time for his 6-year-old son Charlie to learn the “truth” about Santa – this happens before Scott becomes Santa, obviously.
Best Line: “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! When I get home, I’m getting a CAT scan!” – Scott/Santa
8. Miracle on 34th Street
What happens when the actual Santa Claus is asked to play himself at Macy’s? Well, he gets put on trial as a fraud, of course.
Best Christmas Moment: The moment you realized Kris Kringle was fighting for the Christmas spirit, not for himself.
Worst Christmas Moment: When Santa Claus gets put on trial… geez people!
Best Line: “Oh, Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind… and that’s what’s been changing. That’s why I’m glad I’m here, maybe I can do something about it.” – Kris Kringle
7. Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Not the 2018 Version… I haven’t seen that one yet.
The original. The best. A tale that proves even the coldest of hearts can be warmed at Christmas.
Best Christmas Moment: When the Whos gather in the town square to sing, despite having everything stolen by the nasty Grinch.
Worst Christmas Moment: When the Grinch plots to steal Christmas from Whoville.
Best Line: “He puzzled and puzzed till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!” – Narrator
6. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
Even though this is only the 8th best Christmas movie of all time, it’s one of the few sequels that really did its predecessor justice. Not to mention the movie takes place in New York City. At Christmas! Oh, and Tim Curry.
Best Christmas Moment: When Kevin and his mom are reunited at the giant Christmas tree at Rockafeller Center Plaza.
Worst Christmas Moment: Kevin got ditched on Christmas. Again.
Best Line: “Don’t you know a kid always wins against two idiots?” – Kevin McCallister
5. It’s A Wonderful Life
When a frustrated businessman sees what life would be like had he never existed, he realizes he does have a special place in the world.
Best Christmas Moment: When George realizes the impact he has had on the people of his little town and how important his life has been to many people.
Worst Christmas Moment: When George thinks suicide is his only relief.
Best Line: “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” – Clarence the Angel
Yeah, this only makes it up to 7th on the list… It’s up against some stiff competition! Yeah, I’m going to get killed for only giving Buddy the Elf the 7th spot.
Best Christmas Moment: The part when the crowd at Central Park are singing together and their Christmas spirit charges up the sleigh.
Worst Christmas Moment: When Buddy the Elf is forced to leave the North Pole.
Best Line: Pretty much the whole movie… but this is one of my favorite… “We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup.” – Buddy the Elf
3. A Christmas Story
The story that we can all relate to. Every one of us had that one thing we wanted to see under the Christmas tree more than anything else.
Best Christmas Moment: When the Christmas turkey is ruined, the Parker family sticks to their family tradition of eating a Christmas feast together… even if that means eating at the local Chinese restaurant.
Worst Christmas Moment: Ralphie meeting Santa Claus only to find out that he’s a total jerk who doesn’t care much about him or his Red Ryder B.B. gun.
Best Line: Again… basically the whole movie… “Aunt Clara had for years labored under the delusion that I was not only perpetually 4 years old, but also a girl.” – Adult Ralphie as the Narrator
2. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
When the whole family gets together for the holiday, chaos ensues.
Best Christmas Moment: When the family, police, and friends are singing Christmas carols together and Clark W. Griswold realizes that despite the craziness, he pulled together a pretty dang good Christmas celebration.
Worst Christmas Moment: The Jelly of the Month Club
Best Line: “Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny f****** Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he’s gonna find the jolliest bunch of a******* this side of the nuthouse.” – Clark Griswold
1. Home Alone
The best Christmas movie of all time. Don’t even argue, you won’t win. This movie has everything to get you in the Christmas spirit.
Best Christmas Moment: When Kevin is in church listening to the choir and he meets the creepy old man from down the street. He finds out the man is actually quite nice and realizes he doesn’t want to be alone on Christmas.
Worst Christmas Moment: When Kevin gets left home alone by his family. He’s a little kid for crying out loud!
Best Line: “This is Christmas. The season of perpetual hope. And I don’t care if I have to get out on your runway and hitchhike. If it costs me everything I own, if I have to sell my soul to the devil himself, I am going to get home to my son.” – Kate McCallister
A few changes to this list from 2014: Most notably, ELF went from #7 to #4… Not sure why I had it so low in 2014. Maybe I just wanted to make the internet mad. I dropped The Nightmare Before Christmas and added The Santa Clause 2. Listen, I LOVE THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, but… it’s a Halloween movie. I watch it multiple times every year, always in October. You can @ me all you want over this one. I really can’t decide if it’s a Christmas movie or not, obviously.
Here’s what I said about The Nightmare Before Christmas in 2014. 2018 me disagrees with 2014 me. This is NOT a Christmas movie, no matter when it takes place.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Don’t get yourself confused, this is not a Halloween movie. Although the movie takes place in Halloweentown, the events that unfold in the movie happen on Christmas.
Best Christmas Moment: When Jack Skellington discovers Christmas and is overcome with Christmas spirit.
Worst Christmas Moment: Kidnapping Santa Claus, giving kids the nasty presents, etc.
Best Line: “There’s children throwing snowballs / instead of throwing heads / they’re busy building toys / and absolutely no one’s dead!” – Jack Skellington